Where Your Farmer’s Market Produce Might Come From (scary!)

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Where Your Farmer's Market Produce Might Come From (scary!) | Real Food RN

This post was written by my husband. He previously worked for a major player in Big Food (I won’t name names) and knows first hand how backwards some of their business practices can be….

In my professional life I work with the procurement department of giant retailer and I’ve learned a few things about retail produce. More specifically I’ve learned about food wholesale or after markets.

Retail produce is traditionally sold in various grocery channels large and small. Often times there are excess or damaged produce that is either purchased by a food broker or less often sold to an individual who directly sells it to you at a wholesale food market.

We don’t want to confuse the wholesale food market with the locally grown organic farmers market.

The ‘Wholesale Food Market’ is basically a swap meet for second hand food. It’s the same produce that could show up in your chain grocery stores. Generally speaking it’s not locally grown and, unless listed, not organic. So don’t be fooled, not everything at the Farmer’s Market is grown by a local farmer. It might just be leftovers from the chain grocery stores! 

The ‘Farmer’s Market’ as I know it is a congregation of local produce farmers and other merchants who mainly sell products they’ve either grown or produced themselves.

Now to be clear, I’m not calling out the vendors who sell second hand food. It’s a legitimate business. But if you’re looking for all the health benefits locally grown organic produce can offer, make sure you’re shopping at a Farmers’ Market and sourcing the right vendors.

Where Your Farmer's Market Produce Might Come From (scary!) | Real Food RN

Some general tips to keep in mind next time you’re at the farmers market:

1. Ask questions to the vendor: Did you grow it? Is it organic? Where’s your farm?

2. Always wash you food. Like any food market, people are touching it and it’s probably dirty

3. Don’t outsmart yourself. If there are Mangos are your Minnesota farmers market, you’re buying from a wholesaler

It’s always good practice to know where your food comes from whenever you can. I hope this sheds a little light on how to shop at your local Farmer’s Market!

For more information on what to eat, I highly recommend Nina Planck’s amazing book: “Real Food

Where Your Farmer's Market Produce Might Come From (scary!) | Real Food RN

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7 Replies to “Where Your Farmer’s Market Produce Might Come From (scary!)”

  1. We sold (or tried to sell) our produce at a few farmer’s markets this past summer and ran into this. The sad thing is that while this produce may be seconds it is bigger and visually more appealing sometimes than home grown food which has a certain “charm” all its own. We were disappointed to find that in spite of the fact that a vendor was willing to be up front about the fact that her cucumbers were not gown by herself and were not organic, customers still bought them simply because they were offered out of season and were big and unblemished. I wish there were more restrictions to protect local growers but in Oklahoma, that is allowed. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Yeah, I always avoid these vendors and go for local! Even if the stand is smaller and the produce has some blemishes, its much much better. The produce from my garden certainly isn’t perfect 🙂

  2. I shop at a local food farmers market but there are abuses and fraud. The day before one market i witnessed a group of people who sell there buy cart after cart of watermelons at a big box grocery store and pay for them with food stamps. I know they were not eating 20 plus watermelons and tied two and two together. It is so sad. I have a vendors that i have talked to and trust so i mainly buy from them.

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